Tester Joins Military and Veterans Service Organizations to Urge Swift Legislative Action on his Major Richard Star Act

Bipartisan legislation from Tester would deliver combat-injured veterans full military benefits; Address longstanding injustice for those forced to medically retire from service

(U.S. Senate)— U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, led a press conference today to demand quick Congressional action on the Major Richard Star Act, his bipartisan bill to fix an injustice that prevents combat-injured veterans with less than 20 years of military service from receiving their full military benefits.

Tester was joined by veterans, Military and Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla), and Major Star’s wife Tonya Star.

“As the law currently stands, combat-injured veterans that were forced to retire before completing 20 years of service aren’t getting the full benefits they earned in service to this country,” said Tester. “That’s flat wrong for veterans and heroes like Major Richard Star and Bill Austin from Polson, Montana, who was forced to retire early after suffering a traumatic brain injury. Congress and leadership have the opportunity to do the right thing for them and their families by setting up a vote to adopt the Major Richard Star Act.”

Tester continued, “This bill has the support of more than two-thirds of this body, and is a top priority for Military and Veterans Service Organizations, like the ones behind me. And with damn good reason: because getting it across the finish line will make a big difference in veterans’ lives. With an all-volunteer military, we need to live up to the promises we’ve made to our veterans and that starts with passing the Major Richard Star Act.”

Members from Veterans Service Organizations in Montana and across the nation joined Tester, including Montana Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Adjutant/Quartermaster Tim Peters who spoke alongside the Senator.

“Our veterans cannot afford to continue losing their full, earned military retirement pay because Congress insists on saving money at their expense. It’s objectively wrong,” said Montana VFW Adjutant/Quartermaster Peters. “Many of these vets are Purple Heart recipients and it is wrong to withhold their retirement pay because they got hurt in battle and were unable to finish their tour of duty to accomplish twenty years of service… The Major Richard Star Act continues to have overwhelming, bipartisan support in both chambers, and it’s time we stop talking about it and pass the Richard Star Act. Get it done.”

Named in honor of decorated war veteran Major Richard A. Star who was forced to medically retire due to his combat-related injuries, the Major Richard Star Act is a top legislative priority for Senator Tester, military and veterans’ groups that would deliver full earned benefits to combat-injured veterans.

A staunch advocate for delivering veterans their earned benefits and health care, Senator Tester has been leading the charge to fix the current system that prevents combat-injured veterans with less than 20 years of military service from receiving the full amount of their Department of Defense (DoD) retirement and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability payments. His bipartisan Major Richard Star Act will fix this policy for medically retired veterans—providing them their full VA disability and DoD retirement payments.